Oakland's early outburst not enough in series finale

June 4th, 2023

MIAMI -- Mark Kotsay was asked how he stays so positive in what is most certainly not a position conducive to optimism as manager of the A’s.

“It’s a new day, and that’s the beauty of the game and the beauty of the grind,” said Kotsay, whose A’s came into Sunday’s game against the Marlins with only 12 wins in their first 60 games.

“Each day presents a new challenge and a new opportunity.’’

Yes, Sunday was a brand-new day for Kotsay and his Athletics.

Only despite a fast start and a nice early lead, it ended like many of the rest -- with a quiet postgame clubhouse as players silently prepared for their next batch of games.

The Marlins ended up rallying from an early four-run deficit and scored twice in the eighth to sweep the A’s with a 7-5 win at loanDepot park.

Oakland has lost its last four heading into a three-game set at Pittsburgh. Miami is now four games over .500.

“Every [loss] is tough,’’ said Kotsay, who was part of a Marlins team that went 54-108 in 1998 following its first World Series championship, “but when you have a lead and they end up battling back … it’s continuing to be a grind.’’

Things were, as Kotsay alluded to in his pregame chat, looking up for the A’s on Sunday.

Down 1-0 in the second, Oakland tagged defending NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara for five runs in the third, highlighted by a two-run double off the left-center-field wall from .

Laureano scored after Alcantara’s pickoff throw went wide when Laureano attempted to steal third, giving Oakland a 5-1 lead.

Alcantara settled in, however, and the A’s bats went cold as they were unable to put a single runner into scoring position the rest of the game.

“In the third, the offense came alive and the bats were really good," Kotsay said. “We talked yesterday about that being contagious and they fed off one another, got pitches to hit. They didn’t miss them.

“We got to Alcantara well. But tip your cap to him. He battled and ended up pitching seven. Shows what kind of a competitor he is and why he has had that kind of success in this league.”

Miami, meanwhile, chipped away at its deficit.

Oakland starter gave up a run in the fourth before Miami tied it on a three-run shot from Garrett Cooper off the left-field foul pole with one out in the fifth.

“It easily could have gone foul and it’s a different at-bat and a different game,” Kotsay said. “[Blackburn] battled and was gassed after five. He grinded through the backup breaking ball he gave up to Cooper. One mistake. It was one mistake that changed the game.”

Said Blackburn: “It was one pitch right there that burnt me. Sometimes it happens like that, there’s one pitch in an outing you wish you could have back. Give those guys credit; they are good hitters. I hung a breaking ball in there and they made me pay for it. … The offense came out and gave us a nice cushion and I gave it right back to them.”

The score remained tied through the eighth, with the Marlins taking the lead for good on an infield chopper from Luis Arraez that went off the glove of a charging Aledmys Díaz allowing Joey Wendle to score from third.

Kotsay said he considered walking Arraez with first base open, but was hoping for a ground ball. The A’s got it, but couldn’t make the play and the go-ahead run scored.

A passed ball on a strikeout of Bryan De La Cruz plated pinch-runner Nick Fortes and made it 7-5.

Miami reliever Dylan Floro closed things out and got his sixth save of the season by putting the A’s down in order.

After the game, Brent Rooker and Seth Brown were seen having a heated conversation in the Oakland dugout, with Kotsay owing that simply to more frustration boiling over in a rough season for the A’s.

“We got the ground ball and just couldn’t get the play made,” Kotsay said. “That’s kind of the story of our year right now, and I know everyone in that room is feeling it. There is a lot of emotion in that room right now. … Everyone is frustrated, everyone is trying as hard as they can. There are times when that emotion gets the best of us.”